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You Must Be a Party Member

American conservatives were once thought to be the model of respect for America's political traditions, particularly the fairness and impartiality of the rule of law, but lately something has gone badly amiss in the Justice Department. The DOJ is not completely independent of the Executive, but it is supposed to give the appearance that is at arm's length from the President, since it represents the law of the US that monitors and checks the power of the Executive as well.

The reviled Jimmy Carter saw the dilemma. Carter wanted to keep the Attorney General independent of presidential direction to ensure that the Justice Department's authority would never again be abused for political purposes as it had been during the Nixon presidency.... but his Attorney General Bell refused. He said the Constitution wouldn't permit it. Ultimately, said Bell, the only check on that misuse of power 'involves trust and integrity' -- two qualities no law can provide or guarantee, and which were the glue that held the system in place.

With Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush 41, firewalls and respect for the notion the law must be rendered even-handedly by professionals were seemly adhered to, but all that changed with the present gang in power. They have decided on their narrow grounds of political reliability not only to avoid putting 'the best people you can find in there,' but also to put in inexperienced and malleable acolytes in charge of the selection and firing of senior Justice officials.

There is not one word in the Constitution that mentions political parties, but try telling that to someone like ('the Constitution is only a .... piece of paper') George W. Bush, or ('I don't recall') Alberto Gonzales or (pleading the 5th) Monica Goodling.

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Comments (3)

Great first post, Steve. You highlight another important issue involving the flaws in the American justice system; partisanship. At the top end, an impartial DOJ is a very important issue, at the lower end, class justice in which the less affluent citizens cannot afford an adequate level of good legal representation, and state legislatures continue to trim public defender budgets remains a serious issue.

There is no way that on a $500 public defender budget per case that a defendant can get as fair of a trial as a defendant able to afford an $80,000 private attorney, with the added resources of a private investigator and expert witnessess to testify at a trial.

Even the Duke rape case proves that a defendant able to afford good legal representation can afford to raise enough doubts to have a case dismissed, while others who rely on public defenders may be forced to serve up to life in prison for a crime that they did not commit.

It was never intended by the Founding Fathers that partisanship would impact the fair application of justice on the high end of the system for the Executive branch, or relative poverty would impact the application of justice on the low end.

Steve Crickmore:

Thanks Paul, great first comment. The Justice Department should be the impartial, remedial, equalizing recourse for the nation, not a political tool, to be used by Rove and Bush for electoral gerrymandering.

Almost all the disputed AG's dismissals revolved upon flimsy Democratic electoral fraud cases that the Republican AG's realized were unfounded. Given the election polls and the results in the decisive states of Florida and Ohio, that determined the last two presidential elections, I would have thought that Democratic electoral fraud was hardly the burning issue

Conservatives will say that even with a lightweight like Gonzales, no crime was committed, (they conveniently exclude lying to Congress, a felony ) But if there is nothing to hide, why the 'Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope' and the resignation of key officials.

In my post, I was going to talk about about traditional conservative virtues of honor and loyalty but the Bush /Rove leadership has been so hypocritical and threadbare, that all we are left with is loyalty going one-way, and the solace in La Rochfoucald's quote [Hypocrisy is the tribute which vice pays to virtue.] I guess we should be grateful for even this small gesture; the alternative for the administration, is not disclosure or transparency, but the language of vice...president Cheney.


Justice is supposed to be blind, like the statue of the justice system shows. This present admin has taken the blindfold off the statue.

The puggies all claim that Monica would be railroaded like Libby was if she appeared in front of the Justice Committees. What a load of crap that is.She knows she committed crimes, and that is why she took the 5th. Now with the grant of immunity, will she also have memory loss like the AG did?

When the majority of Americans lose faith in the Justice Dept. we have a huge problem in this country. The next elected President needs to fire every one in the justice dept that has been hired since the year 2000.

That way any person who wants politics involved in the Justice Dept would be gone. I also think that the fired USA's be re appointed to their old jobs by the new President, with the emphases to go after corruption, no matter where it leads to.

But don't hold your breath on that happening.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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